UCF by UEDA Fashion Lab

UCF by UEDA Fashion Lab is a welcome palate cleanser. Fashion weeks often seem like a flurry of excess but this design group focuses on what drives the industry forward and roots it firmly in the past. By bringing together young designers and heritage Japanese weavers, UEDA Fashion Lab has produced an elegantly aligned pairing. The utilitarian ensembles are fresh and outline a value system championed by Gen Z. The superior quality of the textiles buttresses the importance of quality in longevity and therefore, sustainability, giving the collection and the mission, gravitas.

Every season, designs are executed mostly in black and white to emphasize the textile’s unique properties. Some of the different ones used here and in previous seasons are Ōmi jōfu (traditional linen), Kiryu-jacquard, Nishiwaki-cotton, Tango-silk, and Arimatsu-Shibori (tie-dye technique).

Textiles give clothes their essential characteristics. Think of it as the DNA, a building block that can dictate how the garment will move, how long it will last, its luster, and how it will behave in different climates. The complexity of the techniques applied, the skill level of the weaver, and how rare the raw materials are, can influence the final cost, quality, and availability.

Due to the handwork and natural materials required, textiles can be highly evocative of a specific place and time. Their necessity allows them to seep into every aspect of daily life and so, figure greatly into defining a culture’s preferred aesthetic. It’s a shared visual vocabulary everyone has to engage in and so, has an instantly recognizable, unifying effect. Certain textiles often punctuate national holidays and coming-of-age ceremonies, resonating with our deepest, fondest memories. Over time, textiles define silhouettes and cultural identities. It’s the lifeblood of brands built on tradition and history.

The development of specialty textiles is integral to establishing luxury brands in a country. In addition to being an invaluable cultural asset, domestic textile development also allows for vertical integration, keeping costs low and allowing manufacturers to turn around orders quickly. A textile-rich ecosystem also gives the general public and aspiring professionals exposure to a wide range of options, elevating taste levels and priming the market for luxury goods. Japan’s tenacity in preserving textile traditions continues to signal a mature outlook to reach the highest levels of fashion design on the global stage.

Video is provided by Rakuten Fashion Week TOKYO. View this show and previous seasons’ collections with sound on their YouTube Channel or browse through stills.